Korea is one of the most technologically developed countries, and the Internet is a fundamental part of its citizens’ everyday lives. Interesting fact: internet connection is better, faster and more affordable than in the USA. So, it’s no surprise that the Internet is commonly used. Of course, globalization erases barriers and blurs out distinctions between cultures. Lately, the extreme popularity of K-pop worldwide has also brought Korean culture to other countries. But as is any country, Korean cyber-culture has its own signature features we will analyze in this article.
Different Aspects of Internet Culture in Korea
Life on the Internet is not uniform and includes different areas with different fans. Let’s see what forms of online activity are essential in Korea.
The first thing that comes to mind when talking about the Korean Internet culture is their love for gaming. And it’s not a coincidence that the best cyber sportsmen are from Korea. Gaming culture is extremely popular here. MMORPG games are easily available in multiple video games clubs and private playing.
In Korea, streaming is more popular than in any other country. You can find channels for TV broadcasting, sports programs, and an incredible amount of live shows. Korean people are especially fond of Muckbang (which is getting popular in other countries). In this show, ordinary people discuss different topics while eating crazy amounts of food. You can also find a lot of games streaming on the Internet.
The interesting feature of Korean streaming channels is that you can’t register them by a fake name. You need to provide a real document so that anything you speak and do can be tied to you. This is done to prevent harmful content from spreading.
People around the world know Japanese manga and anime. Korean animation is not that widespread yet, but natives adore reading and watching the newest episodes online on their smartphones. This subculture also creates multiple internet communities and forums where young people discuss their favorite series. Webtoons and Korean comic stories manhwa are growing in popularity worldwide and have become known in the USA lately.
This type of online activity is typical for internet culture in Korea, but it has spread to other Asian countries, like China, in recent years. It’s a kind of personal website with blog elements. As with streaming channels, the owners must confirm their identity to register the page. This makes the community non-anonymous and creates a kind of social network. Cyworld accounts are often used to reestablish long-lost relationships or find former classmates.
Each user can decorate the page and add music, graphical elements, animation, or video. The pages in Cyworld can be used as a personal diary or as a page in social media for publishing short news and updates. The diversity of discussed topics and page decorations makes this Internet community unique.
Total connectivity and easy access to the high-speed internet connection even underground is not only a positive phenomenon. For many people, especially among the young population, it causes severe addiction. The whole environment encourages online gaming and social interactions. Computer clubs are designed to be so comfortable; you can easily spend 24 hours in such a place.
This situation leads to massive negative consequences. First, it harms health. A sedentary lifestyle and lack of activity cause multiple issues with the musculoskeletal, cardiovascular, and other systems. Many young Korean have poor eyesight.
Another important problem is the psychological damage young people suffer. They experience major issues with face-to-face communications and demonstrate signs of anxiety in everyday situations. Numerous gamers refuse to leave home and find real-life not interesting and annoying. This social adaptation has attracted authorities’ attention, and there are a lot of rehabilitation programs for such people. Teenagers go through the resocialization process in special camps, where the Internet and gadgets are strictly prohibited. You cannot even check the weather forecast for tomorrow in such a place.
Korean Internet Space for Foreigners
As you can already understand, the internet culture in Korea is unimaginably extensive and diverse. You can easily get confused by various site names and addresses. This is because of high competition. The company tries to register as many domains as possible to strengthen its online presence. So, following different links, you can visit the same resource with the same content. It’s not a mistake, just a feature of crowded internet space.
The second problem for foreigners is the language. Most commercial web pages have an English version; other languages are not so widespread but can be found too. But in the private blogs section of the Internet, Korean prevails. If you want to read first-hand news, you’ll have to study hieroglyphics. Videos on popular channels can be both in English and Korean; there is no strict rule for language choice.
In Contrast with North Korea
Interestingly, the two closest countries have more differences than similarities in Internet culture. While South Korea is one of the most connected and digitalized countries in the world, its neighbor implies multiple restrictions on the Internet. Online life is strictly controlled and managed in North Korea. Many sites can’t be accessed from outside the borders. North Korean internet culture is famous for its propaganda and censorship.
The mysterious intranet inaccessible for foreigners is an object of different myths and rumors. But nobody from abroad really knows its contents and rules of use. Foreigners can see multiple political leader activities and work materials on the Internet. The articles and videos on neutral topics like cooking and hobbies are also very common. Online gaming is not encouraged in this country.
Now you have a whole picture of amazing, strong, and unique Internet culture in Korea. It may be a little imbalanced, but the online space in Korea is a separate world with its traditions and customs. If you are interested in K-pop or manhwa, we recommend exploring this world. You’ll receive plenty of emotions and an interesting experience. But don’t forget about the real world, don’t pattern Korean teenagers on their attitude to the Internet.